A family living in fear after the hillside behind their home gave way nine months ago have been told to sleep in the back of their house as a precaution in heavy rain.

It was the day after last year's Kaikoura earthquake when Sarah Toase fled her Porirua home with her 4-day-old baby.

Toase, her husband, and their two children piled into the car without even so much as a change of nappies for the baby, terrified that they might be buried alive after a massive slip came down from council reserve.

Sarah Toase says the slip site was 150m long, and came from council reserve land above their home. Photo/Melissa Nightingale.
Sarah Toase says the slip site was 150m long, and came from council reserve land above their home. Photo/Melissa Nightingale.

"We were all in the house and I just heard a really unusual noise," she told the Herald.

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"I looked into the bedroom where my daughter was actually sleeping. I could see out the window and the noise was actually my car being moved by the sheer force of the debris."

The slip came down with such force that it shunted their car sideways. Photo / Sarah Toase.
The slip came down with such force that it shunted their car sideways. Photo / Sarah Toase.

Nine months on and the Whitby family live in fear of another slip, still waiting on work by Porirua City Council to secure the site.

In the mean time, they've been told to move to the opposite end of the house to sleep whenever the rain gets heavy.

"We're just kind of constantly living on edge . . . it's terrifying.

"I do feel quite significantly traumatised by the event itself. You just never feel 100 per cent safe in your own home."

Toase said the slip in November was 150m long and dumped 142sq m of debris into their back yard and against and underneath the house. In some places the piles of earth, plants and rocks were above head height.

Her husband had been in the yard not long before the slip hit.

"You couldn't really believe your eyes, it was so much dirt, massive big tree trunks," she said.

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"The whole entire gully has basically sloshed in and come down."

Unsure whether more debris was coming down, the Toase family quickly jumped in their car and drove somewhere safe.

The council admits the large slip would have been
The council admits the large slip would have been "terrifying" for the family. Photo / Sarah Toase.

They were out of their house for about six days before told it was safe to return. It took about three weeks for council to clear the debris, but work to secure the site is yet to begin.

Toase finds herself staring at the site during rainy weather, or staring out the window with a torch at 2am on a stormy night.

Council staff had inspected the slip for signs of movement but Toase said they were not geotechnical engineers. A mesh net to catch debris was now not expected to be built till Christmas and she felt her family was being bumped down the list of priorities, despite the potential danger.

The area where the slip came through used to be heavy bush and trees. Photo/Melissa Nightingale
The area where the slip came through used to be heavy bush and trees. Photo/Melissa Nightingale

Porirua City Council chief operating officer Tamsin Evans said delays securing the slip were caused by continuous heavy rain, and dealing with nearly 50 other slips across the region since the November quakes.

"We've been in regular contact with Sarah Toase over the past several months.

"In the past six weeks we've had more heavy rains and another round of emergency slips that need immediate response, so I understand Sarah will be feeling frustrated that the Council is having to deal with multiple and some serious slips."

Evans said work would begin soon, to distribute stormwater across a wider area above the slip and stop it coming straight down the natural gully.

She said a detailed design solution for a debris catch fence would be completed "in the next couple of weeks".

Evans said clean-up and repair work this year had cost the city an additional $3.2m in capital expenditure, and $540,000 in operating expenditure.